Today’s Final Jeopardy – Friday, May 21, 2021


Happy Friday! Six of the nine spots in the semifinals have been claimed. Who will claim the final three? Here’s today’s Final Jeopardy (in the category American Authors) for Friday, May 21, 2021 (Season 37, Game 170):

The year before his 1809 birth, his parents acted in “King Lear”, leading scholars to believe he was named for a “Lear” character

(correct response beneath the contestants)


Today’s contestants:

Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, a librarian from Portland, Oregon
Veronica Vichit-Vadakan on Jeopardy!
Andy Wood, a writer originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan
Andy Wood on Jeopardy!
Sam Kavanaugh, a teacher originally from Carlton, Minnesota
Sam Kavanaugh on Jeopardy!

Andy’s Pregame Thoughts: The prediction model thinks that Andy is a slight favorite to take this match. However, if Sam can find and convert the Daily Doubles like he did in his regular run, Sam will be in prime position to take down a spot in the semifinals. If Sam doesn’t get Daily Doubles, though, I suspect that he’ll be in trouble to advance. Veronica has the chops to contend as well in this quarterfinal; this will definitely be an intriguing fifth and final quarterfinal.


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Correct response: Who is Edgar Allan Poe?


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More information about Final Jeopardy: (The following write-up is original content and is copyright 2021 The Jeopardy! Fan. It may not be copied without linked attribution back to this page.)

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Edgar was the Earl of Gloucester’s first-born son; Edgar Allan Poe is one of 19th century American literature’s best-known authors. While he is best known for living in the Baltimore area, he was born in Boston to actors Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and David Poe, Jr.; David abandoned the family a year after Edgar’s birth and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis; Edgar was raised by Virginia merchant John Allan.


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Scores going into Final:
Veronica $22,800
Sam $20,400
Andy $7,400


Tonight’s results:
Andy $7,400 – $7,300 = $100 (Who was Dickens?)
Sam $20,400 + $2,401 = $22,801 (Who is Poe?) (Semi-Finalist)
Veronica $22,800 – $340 = $22,460 (Who is Hawthorne?)


Sam Kavanaugh, today's Jeopardy! winner (for the May 21, 2021 game.)


Wild card standings:
Monday: Ryan Bilger, $32,405
Tuesday: Karen Farrell, $16,200
Wednesday: Jennifer Quail, $20,650
Thursday: Kevin Walsh, $16,000
Friday: Sam Kavanaugh, $22,801
1. Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, $22,460
2. Jason Zuffranieri, $18,800
3. Nibir Sarma, $12,199
4. Ryan Hemmel, $11,600
5. MacKenzie Jones, $9,000
6. Steve Moulds, $4,800
7. Andy Wood, $100 ($7,400)
8. Paul Trifiletti, $100 ($5,800)
9. Sarah Jett Rayburn, $0 ($9,800)
10. Ben Henri, $0 ($2,800)


Scores after the Jeopardy! Round:
Andy $7,000
Veronica $6,400
Sam $2,000


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Opening break taken after: 15 clues


Daily Double locations:
1) PREFIXES $800 (clue #11)
Veronica 600 +1000 (Sam 1400 Andy 4600)
2) 2-WORD COUNTRIES $2000 (clue #2)
Sam 3600 +3600 (Andy 7000 Veronica 6400)
3) MYTHOLOGY $1200 (clue #4, $29600 left on board)
Sam 8800 +4000 (Andy 7000 Veronica 6400)
Overall Daily Double Efficiency for this game: 245


Game Stats:
Sam $16,000 Coryat, 18 correct, 2 incorrect, 29.82% in first on buzzer (17/57), 1/1 on rebound attempts (on 2 rebound opportunities)
Veronica $22,600 Coryat, 23 correct, 0 incorrect, 38.60% in first on buzzer (22/57), 0/0 on rebound attempts (on 4 rebound opportunities)
Andy $7,400 Coryat, 15 correct, 2 incorrect, 28.07% in first on buzzer (16/57), 1/1 on rebound attempts (on 2 rebound opportunities)
Combined Coryat Score: $46,000
Lach Trash: $3,400 (on 4 Triple Stumpers)
Coryat lost to incorrect responses (less double-correct responses): $4,600

Sam Kavanaugh, career statistics:
138 correct, 13 incorrect
4/5 on rebound attempts (on 24 rebound opportunities)
32.32% in first on buzzer (127/393)
11/12 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $62,800)
5/7 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $14,286

Andy Wood, career statistics:
120 correct, 12 incorrect
8/9 on rebound attempts (on 24 rebound opportunities)
32.45% in first on buzzer (110/339)
6/7 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $22,800)
5/6 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $12,667

Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, career statistics:
121 correct, 14 incorrect
8/12 on rebound attempts (on 31 rebound opportunities)
33.33% in first on buzzer (111/333)
4/6 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $4,000)
4/6 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $15,233

Andy’s Thoughts:

  • Buzzy acknowledged the death of Brayden Smith during this episode. If you missed it, Jeopardy has posted the video on its YouTube channel.
  • Without adjusting for doubled dollar values, $22,460 is the highest-ever non-winning score in a Tournament of Champions quarterfinal. It is the 9th-highest score when adjusting for doubled dollar values, and the highest since Babu Srinivasan ($11,500) in 2001.

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24 Comments on "Today’s Final Jeopardy – Friday, May 21, 2021"

  1. This FJ could prove difficult. Everyone knows that King Lear had three daughters; but, unless you’ve actually seen the play, you probably wouldn’t know about Edgar and Edmund, the sons of Gloucester who figure prominently into the plot. Surely at least one of these champions is a theatergoer, no?

    • It’s able to be solved by American authors and the date, with an educated guess about the name from the play. I’ll add EAP to my mental rolodex of 1809 birthdays along with Abe Lincoln and Charles Darwin, who were born on the same day.
      All in all I thought the writers did a fair job balancing the Finals this week. All were on academic subjects, all could be solved from context rather than “you know it or you don’t”. Maybe I’m saying that b/c I had a good week of 4/5 (although Lord Baltimore was a pure guess so I should give myself 3.5) and Finals are usually my weakness. If it’s become commonplace to take a dump on the writers for bad clues we should give credit where credit is due.
      An interesting TOC twist is that the sequestered players with not have heard the Cuervos clue in the NFL Teams in Spanish category the other day, so Ravens will not be top of mind like it might be in regular play. There was a situation like this when Bill Whitaker hosted in which King Solomon came up two days in a row.

      • I thought that about Ravens, too. Their mascot is named Poe (I would have named him Edgar).

        • Marty Cunningham | May 21, 2021 at 2:17 pm |

          Yes, now that you mention it, it is interesting that Maryland /Baltimore seems to have been featured so much this week, what with two FJ clues and the football clue in regular play.

          Since the writers put together over 300 clues for each week, and then Standards and Practices randomly selects the five games to play on a days’ taping, i wonder how often something like this does come up; a recurring theme about a region or an event in various rounds and on multiple days. If there isn’t one already, Andy, this sounds like a stat worth tracking (not necessarily volunteering, though).

          • Pennsylvania has been equally prominent, what with the FJ clue about William Penn yesterday, the daily double about oil in Titusville on Monday, and clues about US Steel and Rachel Carson (who had PA AND MD connections) on the same day.

  2. I’d say this was a great game given the subjects were school related stuff. Edgar Allan Poe came to me today after not knowing Baltimore. Sam and veronica were dominant today so now Mackenzie is out from the wildcard spot.

  3. Gotta say, the quarterfinals played out way differently than I thought they would. Congrats, Sam and Veronica!

  4. Andy- THANK YOU for the link to the Buzzy/Brayden video.
    Buzzy is a class act. I hate to see his guest hosting gig half over so quickly. Time does fly when you’re having fun.

    • Well said,sir. Some of the guest hosts’ stints have seemed interminable but Buzzy has made it fun again.

      • …and Mayim Bialik starts her run right after the tournament. I fondly hope she will be a breath of fresh air.

  5. Brad (not Rutter) | May 21, 2021 at 5:08 pm |

    Buzzy is great, but let’s also give credit to the high level of competition and high stakes. Entertaining week!

  6. Lots of good hosts, but Buzzie getting the nod could be an excellent choice. This final TOC opening round ended up having the highest total Coryat, including the two highest $ totals. The highest overall $ total was by Ryan Bilger, whom Sam beat for his first win. Had Ryan won that close match it is quite possible or even likely he would have been an Ultra Champion (10 or more wins)!

  7. Both Ryans won’t be in the same semifinal.

  8. Zach Hicks | May 21, 2021 at 6:03 pm |

    We got to see the retractable dividers in action when the camera went back to Veronica. Congratulations to all the semifinalists.

  9. All three players made good bets in Final Jeopardy. Sam bet small to force Veronica to get the final right to win the game. Veronica bet small to keep enough money to guarantee at least a wild card. Andy bet most of his money as he knew that was probably the only way to get a wild card. He would have if he got the Final right.

  10. Brad (not Rutter) | May 21, 2021 at 7:15 pm |

    The projection model only picked one of the 5 winners. It really feels like anyone’s ballgame this year.

  11. Potentially dumb question (and apologies if this was answered elsewhere but I couldn’t find it!): Do the players watch the games before them or know the results? Seems that would be an unfair advantage for those going today so they are aware of the threshold for a wild card slot.

  12. Yes, Buzzy has been wonderful. It will be interesting to see what happens next week if they get to a minute to go situation. That wasn’t in play this week, but could be next week. Alex was a master at picking up the pace with time running out. Of course with the quality of these players, they may fly through the clues and not get in a time crunch.

    • Frank Borland | May 23, 2021 at 6:22 pm |

      Robert, if I am not mistaken, they don’t have the “minute to go situation” during tournaments, especially during the quarter and semi-finals. That would make it unfair if a game doesn’t reveal all of the clues on a board while others did, scoring-wise. They all should have the same amount of clues for their match. The Finals are different because there won’t be any other games, so they might have the “MTOS” at that time.

      • For sure, they do not have a minute to go for the quarter-finals as they want the competitors to have an equal opportunity for money earned for the wild card spots.

  13. The best thing about Buzzy is that, like Alex, he comes prepared with the answers, so there isn’t that annoying two-second gap between the contestant’s response and the host’s ruling. Too many guest hosts were guilty of this time lapse.

    As noted above, the all of the Final Jeopardy clues were good this week (for a change). Perhaps this is the Ken Jennings influence. Reviewing the Tournament of Champions clues would be a good use of his consulting time.

  14. R. B. Smada | May 22, 2021 at 11:46 am |

    Looks like Jason was right in thinking 9400 or less would have sent him home. Sarah too, of course.

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